If I had a dollar for every mistake I made when I was first starting out in my freelance writing career…well let’s just say I would earn a nice salary just from my blunders!
I realize it’s typical for “newbies” to make mistakes. But, I was some kind of “mistake freak.” Seriously, I felt like I couldn’t get anything right for the first couple years of my freelance writing journey.
Thankfully, nothing went to waste. I learned a LOT, and now I can share this information with you.
And don’t think you have to follow in my mistake-prone footsteps to get to the level of success you desire. Quite the contrary!
While some of these mistakes are unavoidable, you can evade the others simply by learning from someone who has been there and who can teach you what not to do…that’s ME!
So, with that in mind, let me help you navigate the somewhat unsettling new waters of freelance writing. I will share with you the top mistakes I made and the ones that caused me the most pain…the ones you can avoid easily with a little effort.
Inaction Due to a Lack of Confidence
Most new freelance writers lack confidence, and as a result, they can’t get their freelance writing career off the ground.
If there is one thing I want you to take away from this post and never forget, it is this…
You DON’T need confidence to start a freelance writing career and be successful. All you need is a small dose of courage to take the next step.
I love the saying, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
That is the story of my life as a writer. I was excited and saw the opportunity, even though I lacked experience.
When I began my writing career my confidence was nonexistent. I didn’t have any, but I pushed forward anyway. As I took those first few steps, I recognized that my assurance was building day by day.
In the beginning you might have to fake confidence. But soon, as you write and complete jobs successfully, you will start to believe in yourself and you will watch your career take shape right before your eyes.
Don’t let a lack of confidence impede your progress. I know what you are dealing with and let me assure you that you CAN move forward. I believe in you.
If you struggle with this at any level, I want to help. I put together a Free report called “Freelance Writing Fear Smashers.” In it, I detail exactly how I overcame my fears to become the successful freelance writer I am today. Download it here now.
Even though you are new to freelance writing, do not show a lack of confidence or desperation when replying to job ads or pitching prospective clients. In your correspondence, avoid using any phrases or words similar to these:
- I don’t have that much experience
- I’m willing to try!
- I’m a very quick learner
- I NEED this job so badly
- Please give me a chance
- I am a new writer
- I think I can help you
Even if you have NO experience at all, take a day or two and write some samples before you submit to any ads. It’s well worth taking the time because you will need these to send to potential clients when you respond to gigs. And a side benefit is that writing samples will give you more experience with writing.
You have more experience than you think. If the job entails writing about parenting and you are a parent, that is the best writing experience you can have. If you are asked to write about traveling and you visited several vacation spots, you have experience in that arena, too. Every day, life gives you new and interesting experiences that you can use to earn money as a freelance writer.
Remember we all began in the same place you are right now. Before long, you will be a seasoned writer making the money you deserve.
Lack of a Website or Online Portfolio
Many new writers don’t see the necessity of a website and think it is a waste of time.
The day you make your decision to seriously pursue this exciting career, you are branding yourself as a writer. A brand needs an online presence.
As you apply to ads, you will need a website to send your potential clients to show off your professionalism. Writers that don’t have a website close far fewer jobs than those that have this important online presence.
It is also a common practice for freelancers to have a writing portfolio online. If a potential client cannot read your work, why would he hire you? If you don’t have any samples, then write them, as I mentioned before. Either write about any and every topic or write on more focused topics if you are leaning towards a particular writing specialty.
Avoiding Social Media
Some people believe that self-promotion is a bad thing, and as a result, they never earn money for their craft.
Because of terms such as shameless bragging or tooting your own horn, the idea of marketing can make you feel insecure about promoting your business and yourself.
Self-promotion is what allows us to market our services and reach our income goals. It’s essential! We are exchanging value for money, and to our clients, our services are a valuable asset to them.
Self-promotion makes this possible. I am also on the “client” end of this and I can say that a great writer is a tremendous asset I am willing to pay well for.
Social media is an outlet freelance writers can use to promote themselves and connect with other writers and potential clients. Don’t neglect this important avenue. In today’s high-tech digital age, grasping how to navigate social media sites and endorsing yourself can mean the difference between insignificance and financial success.
If you need some assistance with social media, check out my quick start guide on setting up your social profiles.
Not Working Regular Hours
Yes, you are a freelancer, but this doesn’t mean that you should neglect a regular working schedule.
I’m not saying you have to sit in front of your computer for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year!
But, if you don’t set regular hours and stick to them like clockwork, you will have a harder time creating a prosperous business.
Self-discipline is your friend as a freelance writer. Decide the hours you want to work and the days of the week you will give to your business and do it! If you don’t feel you are able to commit that much time, then start freelance writing as a supplement to the income you make in your day job.
Spouse vying for your time?
UPS at the door?
Sister inviting you to a late lunch?
Kids asking for dinner?
It’s inevitable. You work from home so the distractions will come. You can’t escape it.
The problem is that because you work from home, to others, it can seem like you are not actually working.
You may find you have to contend with:
- Parents who work away from home and treat you as their “fallback” to help with their kids
- Kids who need help with homework and you’re “right there”
- Spouse who expects all the outside chores to be completed
- Friends who call to chat or text you while you’re working
I’m sure you could add to even more to this list. But, in order to be successful in your freelance writing career, you need to set boundaries and rules.
Here are some tips:
- Tell people you have a job. The only difference is you perform your job at home.
- Check who is calling and DON’T answer if it’s someone who will distract you
- Tell people not to call during business hours
- Work in a separate room from the main portion of the home or partition off a section.
Your friends and family need to know that they should treat your career “at home” exactly as if you were working in an office building with set hours.
Focus on working during working hours. Eliminate all distractions, phone calls and anything else that wouldn’t be tolerated in a traditional job setting.
Find Your Path to Success
Starting a freelance writing business can be a bit challenging, but don’t get discouraged. No writer is perfect… not even those who have been at it for years. And experience is the best teacher.
My hope is that you can learn through my experience and my personal mistakes and circumvent your own.
Looking for more advice on how to become a freelance writer? Then check out The Definitive Step-by-Step Guide on How to Become a Freelance Writer.